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Analysis: Once Futile NFC West Now The League’s Toughest Division

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Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers passes the ball during a game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 23, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers passes the ball during a game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 23, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS Sports) – It was only a few years ago that the NFC West was the laughingstock of the National Football League, with Seattle snatching a division title in 2010 despite a 7-9 record. The situation was so unsightly that suggestions of altering the playoff seeding system became an off-season talking point.

Contrast that to now, as executives from other divisions fear three teams from the resurgent NFC West — Seattle, San Francisco and St. Louis — will reach the postseason.

The rapid ascent is hardly a quirk. It’s not been a fluke at all. In fact, several key common denominators are present in the rise of these clubs, which are born of a paradigm in which an aggressive, first-time general manager was paired with an experienced head coach who had pretty much seen it all before.

READ MORE analysis on the NFC West’s rise From CBS Sports.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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